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John's Jottings for September 2004

John Ward

Please note: these Jottings are purely personal comment, and do not necessarily or directly represent the policy of either the Conservative Party or the Conservative Group on Medway Council.

How Green is my Medway?

Regular readers of these Jottings will probably have come to realise what those who know me well have been aware of for a long time: that I am passionate about keeping our green spaces green.

It is extremely frustrating, not to say galling, when a whole range of government edicts effectively force the council to do exactly what Deputy Prime Minister Prescott has aimed all along to do with this part of the country. As is getting more widely know, Prescott's intent is to concrete over just about all grren land in the south-east of England, and in particular in the Thames Gateway area that includes much of north Kent

I have seen a map that shows just how much of our area is under threat, thanks to the good offices of the Medway Countryside Forum, and it shows clearly that virtually everything green would go if the government were to have their way. This is real, so let no-one be in any doubt as to who are the true enemies of green space in our region! Never be taken in by apparent attempts by Labour councillors to support residents' wishes to save green spaces in their localities: they have made no attempt whatsoever to press for any change in government policy. Not one of them has done anything to get Prescott'e nose out of our purely local affairs. Hands up anyone reading this who voted for Prescott to override local people's wishes. Did anyone here vote for Prescott at all? No? I thought not...

Therefore they are all conning us, all of Labour with no exceptions whatsoever, and are all just as much a part of the underlying problem as the government ministers themselves. The same applies to our local Members of parliament, who seem capable of little more than posing for pictures in local newspapers (have you noticed how often they appear, but usually have had no material input into what is been written about? Talk about vanity!) rather than doing anything useful. Some of us have better things to do with our time, and are rarely if ever pictured in the local press. A few of us do have the occasional incisive letter printed, though (ahem!)...

Anyway, back to the greenspaces issue itself: the three government edicts that are creating such widespread problems throughout this part of the country are:

On top of all this is the severe underfunding of local authorities in the south-east, leaving councils in dire situations. All over the region, councils are thus being compelled to sell off greenfield land. I have various sources reporting such instances to me, and the latest areas I have heard of (i.e. this week) are Winchester and the Isle of Wight. There have been (and still are!) many others, so don't be fooled into thinking this is a Medway Council problem and is the fault of the Conservative administration of that council.

It is so obvious to anyone who cares to look beyond what is immediately in front of them that the cause is the Labour government. Attempting to attack the symptoms might be cathartic, but it solves nothing—the underlying problem must be overcome.

There is, much though I hate to be effectively cornered like this, no choice but to get rid of the Labour national governmment at the next General Election. If we don't, they'll continue their now very well established trend of stepping-up their demands, and virtually all our green spaces will be lost.

My advice is not to be taken in by appearances, and be taken for a fool by the enemy who believe they can win your support by appearing to support your wishes. We have one case in particular in Medway where Labour councillors are apparently supporting local residents in protecting a green space in their area that is being sold by the council. However they are merely using those residents as pawns to attack their political opponents, rather than tackling the real cause of this situation.

Just taking a step back and watching what is happening on the Compass Close issue will show this starkly—it is fairly obvious. Interestingly, the Labour group on the former Rochester council had already looked at this site, and was seriously considering even then selling off not only what has recently been allowed to become mere scrubland (but was no doubt much more usable back then) but also the playing fields. Indeed, their plans would have put a road across the play area to give access to the scrubland part of the site.

Thus we can see that all that the Labour members are doing is a sham: their agenda is clearly different from that of their residents, and most definitely has a completely different "bottom line". We allow them to divert us from the real struggle—against central government—at our peril.

Never, but never forget any of this!


Next time: It's In the Air...